Most of us have a strong affinity for our morning cup of joe, but a recent study may just make you pass up the daily grinds for a cup of tea. There are over 3 billion cups of tea consumed daily worldwide and rightly so. According to a recent Chinese study, higher levels of tea consumption were associated with lower rates of cognitive impairment. With a rapidly aging population, tea consumption may just be the ticket to better brain health.
Tea’s health benefits are based on the degree of fermentation and oxidation of chemicals in the leaves in compounds called polyphenols. There are three main types of tea: black (fully fermented), oolong (semi), and green (non-fermented). The study measured tea consumption in relation to mental function of 2,808 Chinese participants from September 2003 to December 2005. Tea consumption was measured on a scale of never or rarely consumed to greater than 10 cups per day consumed. Memory, attention, language, praxis and visuospatial ability were all measured. The results of the study concluded that higher levels of tea consumption were associated with higher mental functioning and thus lower prevalence of cognitive impairment. Black tea and oolong tea had the most benefit due to their higher degree of fermentation.
It should be noted that the study also found an association among the highest tea drinkers and younger age, men, higher education level, increased alcohol consumption, lower prevalence of depression, higher physical activity, and increased fruit, vegetable and fish consumption. So there may be a correlation to not only tea consumption, but an over all healthier lifestyle and improved cognitive function later in life.
The next time you head your favorite coffee shop, you may want to skip the coffee and boost those brain cells by ordering a cup of black or oolong tea. You may be helping yourself to a longer, stronger memory and brainpower.